GoalsOnTrack Blog

A systematic approach to achieving goals and getting results.

How to Prioritize, Pursue Goals, and Focus When You Have Many Interests

By Antoine Ribordy

“A man who limits his interests, limits his life.” ~Vincent Price

I can’t stay still.

As a kid, I ran around, misbehaving, climbing everywhere—I was a nightmare for my parents, teachers, and anyone who had to take care of me. One year, my behavior assessment report at school stated: “Leaves a lot to be desired.”

Through my teenage years, I suddenly quieted down. But my mind didn’t go silent; it still boils inside.

I crave stimuli. Any time I have a couple of minutes on my own, while waiting in the car or in a queue, for example, I take my phone out and start reading. Or I take notes, whatever keeps my mind busy. Read more

I Never Achieve My Goals on the First Attempt

By Yomiuri Shimbun

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my late 20s. While working part-time, I’m studying with the aim to take the national bar examination. I’m worried because I haven’t been able to achieve my goals the first time I attempt them. Read more

4 Ways Successful People Get More Out of Their Careers

By Marguerite Ward

The happiest and most motivated professionals are often those who have found meaning in their work, psychological research shows.

But finding a sense of purpose is easier said than done.

According to a national Gallup poll, only 30 percent of professionals feel engaged at work, which leaves 70 percent that feel apathetic or disinterested.

Career and leadership experts, supported by a growing body of workplace research, know that there are multiple ways to start taking control of your career.

Here are 4 ways successful people get the most out of their work life:
Read more

10 Steps to Successful Goal Setting

By Bradley Foster

As a life and executive coach I work with a lot of people on their goals. Setting goals puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you the power to transform your life or take a company into the future. As enticing as that sounds, it is more common than not those goals are abandoned. To be successful, check your goals against my ten steps to help ensure you accomplish them. Read more

Reach Any Goal: How to Strengthen Your Willpower

By Maura Kelly

Turns out that for years, we’ve been going about our resolutions all wrong. That’s because we didn’t really understand what willpower is. It’s not a magical force we summon up only when we’re trying to diet or kick our butts into workout mode. Read more

How to Strengthen Your Willpower

Turns out that for years, we’ve been going about our resolutions all wrong. That’s because we didn’t really understand what willpower is. It’s not a magical force we summon up only when we’re trying to diet or kick our butts into workout mode. Instead, willpower is something we call on throughout the day, every day, to help us decide between the black pants and the blue ones, for instance, or to try to tune out our cubicle mate’s phone conversation so we can get our work done. “Any act that requires self-control requires willpower,” explains Roy F. Baumeister, PhD, a professor of psychology at Florida State University and a coauthor of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

Unfortunately we have only a certain amount of willpower in any 24-hour period, and it tends to be strongest at the beginning of the day. “Willpower depends on your body’s energy supply, which generally peaks in the morning,” Baumeister says. The more we use it, the weaker it gets.

And, boy, do we put willpower through its paces: We spend three hours a day struggling to resist temptations like eating, surfing the Web, and spending money, according to a new study by Baumeister. That process leaves us physically and emotionally drained, says Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a health psychologist at Stanford University and the author of The Willpower Instinct. “The brain uses more energy to curb your impulses than it does to perform other mental tasks,” she explains.

The good news is that you can conserve your willpower and use it to reach your goals, not squander it on the small stuff. Here are six smart techniques for doing just that.

Find your focus.

Blaring TVs. People talking. E-mail and text alerts. We live and work in really noisy environments, which makes it hard to concentrate. And the more we try to tune out the cacophony, the more willpower we use up. The simple solution: Eliminate distractions rather than trying to ignore them, McGonigal says. Help yourself focus at work by using earplugs (or closing your office door if you have one), turning off your cell phone ringer, and silencing e-mail notifications. And don’t listen to your iPod on the job. A 2011 study found that subjects who were asked to memorize information while listening to music scored worse on a test than those who had memorized in silence. “A better strategy is to use music to rev up your mood, energy, and productivity and then switch it off,” McGonigal says.

Eat for energy.

The more often you consume good-for-you food, the more willpower you’ll have. Studies show that people whose blood sugar (aka glucose) is elevated to a healthy level, as it is after regular meals, have more self-control and can more easily resist junk food. “When your blood sugar is low, it’s harder to control your impulses,” McGonigal says. Need an immediate willpower boost? “Some baby carrots or a handful of raisins will do the trick,” she says. These foods are naturally high in sugar and will raise your glucose supply almost instantly, helping fuel your brain. Even better, to keep yourself willpowered all day, eat healthy meals or snacks every four hours. Choose foods that have a combo of protein, fiber, and complex carbs, like a salad with tofu, nuts, spinach, and tomatoes, or Greek yogurt with fruit.

Plan ahead.

Cut down on the number of decisions you have to make every day and your willpower muscle will automatically get stronger. “Studies show that after you reach a decision, your self-control is worse, and after you exert self-control, you get worse at making decisions,” Baumeister says. So get to work right now at reducing the number of choices you have to make in any 24-hour period. On Sunday, plan your workouts for the week and put them in the calendar on your phone. Every few months, pull together five to 10 outfits for work so you don’t start off each day agonizing over what to wear.

Top Ten Ways to Stay Focused on Your Goals and Objectives

Written by Tracy Brinkmann

Achieving your goals is much like pushing a car; you cannot work hard for a day or two and then stop. Pick up your goal again later and work for a day or two and then stop again. You need to put for the consistent effort that will get those wheels rolling. Then once you have that 1200-pound monster rolling forward at a good speed all you need to do is keep putting forth a little consistent effort. With this type of consistency you will reach your goals far faster than with the start and stop method so many people practice these days.

Here are ten of the ways you can focus that consistent effort to get even more out of the effort you put forth. I have found these ‘techniques’ very useful and honestly believe that if you put them to work for you that you too will reap their rewards.

1. Write your primary goals down. There is something that happens when you put pen to paper and write out your goals. It seems to activate your mind and your goals become ‘written’ into your sub-conscious, making your more aware of situations, people and events that will bring you to your goals faster.

2. Re-write your top tens goals daily. Each day re-write your top ten goals without looking at your previous lists. This process accomplishes two things.

a. Deeply imbeds your high priority goal into your sub-conscious.

b. Weeds out those goals that are really important TODAY. Those goals that are not truly high on your long-term priority list will not consistently remain in your top ten lists. This will help you focus on what is truly important rather than those whims all fall victim to.

3. Narrow your focus – by focusing on only a few goals at a time. Pick those goals that are truly yours and your hearts deepest desire. Then focus all your efforts like a laser beam upon their completion. Take the top ten and zero in on those three to five goals that mean the most to you. The three to five goals that you know you have the deepest desire to achieve.

4. Develop an action plan. Once you have determined what you want to accomplish you must now begin to lay out how you will go about accomplishing it. What skills do you need to develop? What contacts do you need to make? What steps do you need to take to get your from where you are today to where you are trying to get? Be aware that your plans may change as you go along gaining new insights and information. But you need to have a plan in order to know what comes next. The knowledge of what your going to do next will do wonders to keep you focused.

5. Envision your goal already achieved. The great achievers of yesterday and today all had one key-ability – the ability to see their goal as already accomplished. Be detailed in your vision of your goal; feel the pride of its accomplishment. What will your friends and associates say once you have reached your goal? The more detail and emotion you can insert into the vision of your accomplishment the more that vision will drive you towards its accomplishment.

6. Empower yourself with affirmations. When take the time daily to write down your top ten goals, write them as present tense personal affirmations. I.e. “I weigh 160 pounds,” rather than “I want to lose weight.” Or “I earn $10,000 a month,” rather than writing “I want to earn more money.” Then read these goals aloud. Stand tall; hold your shoulders straight and your head high. Then in a firm positive voice read your goals aloud. This will ignite the passions and pride within you. The passion to achieve your goal and the pride of what it will feel like to reach it.

7. Take daily action, no matter how small. Do not let a day go by that you do not take some sort of step towards your goal. This is where your consistency will pay big. Do not let the 1200-pound car stop rolling or your will have to push even harder just to get it moving again. Break your large goals down into smaller tasks and work one those tasks daily until complete.

8. Track your progress. You cannot effectively see that which you do not track, and you cannot change that which you cannot see. Create ways to see how far you are towards reaching your goal. Create charts and timelines so that you will see when you are falling behind or pulling ahead – make adjustments to your plans as necessary. A program like Microsoft Project is great for this, but use anything that will motivate you by allowing you to see where are along your road to success.

9. Celebrate Milestones. Another great reason to track your progress is so that you can set and celebrate your milestones. All large goals are made-up of smaller goals and milestones that you need to recognize and pat yourself on the back once you complete them. As you reach each of the milestones, applaud yourself. Pause to feel the accomplishment. As you savor this triumph you will believe more strongly that you will in fact reach your goal.

10. Network and surround yourself with a group of like-minded people. Surround yourself with those that will not only encourage your accomplishments but challenge you towards them as well. None of us will accomplish any big goal alone. You are going to need assistance from others.

Any time that I have put all ten of these techniques to work for me at the same time – I have reached my goal far faster than I could have imagined. Any one of these alone are a way to reach your goal faster but I would highly encourage you to put all ten of these steps in action today. If you do I know I will be hearing about your success in the very near future.


How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

By Scott H Young

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to just get things done? They don’t need “productivity hacks” or GTD and procrastination is a foreign word to them. These people have a reliable work ethic.

A work ethic is a set of values based on the ideals of hard work and discipline. Building a reliable work ethic means training yourself to follow these values. Training yourself so that work becomes automatic instead of a struggle.

Constructing Habits

A work ethic is based on habits. Persistence, focus, “do it now,” and “do it right” are the key habits in building a dependable work ethic. Here are some steps for building those habits:

Forming the Persistence Habit

The first part of a reliable work ethic is persistence. If you quickly burn out after only a short period of work or you can’t stay focused on a task for long, you lack persistence. Building persistence is like building endurance for a race, slowly training yourself to work harder for longer periods of time.

Persistence should always be balanced with periods of rest. Working twelve hours straight won’t usually be the most effective strategy even if your work ethic is strong. But training yourself to work longer can help you if you need to and it makes working shorter periods of time easier.

Here are some tips:

Measure Yourself - Figure out how long you can work effectively. Measure how long it takes before you slow down or give up. Measurement can be a source for improvement.

Run a Burnout Day - Try working longer for one day, following it with a lighter day afterwards. By stretching your focus for longer periods once in a while you can boost your persistence for normal days.

Do an Extra 20% - When you feel like quitting, go an extra 20%. If you’ve been working intensely for three hours but are feeling the desire to stop, try another forty minutes before taking a break.

Forming the Focus Habit

Even more critical than persistence is focus. A car going 70 mph for one hour will go further than a car going 10 mph for six. Focusing all your energies for even a short period of time can be tiring, but combined with persistence it is a powerful ability to have.

Here are some tips for forming the focus habit:

Timebox - Give yourself 60-90 minutes to work on a particular task. During that time you can’t rest or engage in any distractions.

Accelerate - It can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes to build up a concentrated focus. Give yourself time to accelerate into a focused state.

Cut Distractions - Practice the habit of turning off all outside noise. Phones, e-mail, RSS, Twitter and visitors should be shut out while trying to focus.

Forming the “Do It Now” Habit

Don’t let yourself procrastinate. Having a strong work ethic means having the phrase “do it now” as a constant hum in the background. Time for leisure is fine, but if you are trying to work make sure the only thing you are doing is work. Don’t let yourself procrastinate when you still have an unfinished to-do list.

Do it Now for 30 Days - Kill the procrastination bug for good. For the next thirty days define periods of your day you want to devote to work or personal projects. During those periods of time, remind yourself of the “do it now” phrase and get working whenever you feel the urge to procrastinate.

Forming the “Do it Right” Habit

The final aspect of getting things done is doing them properly. Sloppy work, hastily finishing things or spending too little time working out details leads to poor quality. If you aren’t going to do something properly, it’s probably not a good idea to do it at all.

Perfectionism isn’t necessary for many tasks, but most things require a minimum standard of quality. Writing code without useful variable names or documentation. Graphics with merged layers. Articles filled with spelling and grammatical errors. The “do it right” habit means actively slowing yourself down slightly to fix problems before they occur.

Here are some tips:

Separate Creation and Criticism - Ideas require mess. Solving a programming problem or writing an article often requires that you first let go of your need for perfection. But once you’ve finished the idea, you should separate a specific time for clean-up afterwards.

Measure Twice, Cut Once - For tasks that don’t have an Undo feature, take extra care in doing them properly the first time.

Set Two Deadlines - Avoid analysis paralysis by setting two deadlines. One to complete the task, and another to review and polish the work. With two deadlines you won’t stumble into the trap of perfectionism, but you won’t hastily finish something that isn’t ready.

Sit on It - If you’ve hit a milestone in a task or project, take a few minutes to work on something else. When you come back you can use a fresh perspective to tweak problems.

Using the Habits

What’s the point of building a work ethic in the first place? I can’t comment on your job, but if you don’t feel a natural desire to get more done and work harder, you are probably in the wrong line of work. Doing the absolute minimum and laziness might seem like an ideal solution if your working at a job you hate. But if you are involved in a job or personal project you love, having a work ethic means you get to create, accomplish and provide even more.

When Success is Slow, What Can You Do?

By Jack Canfield

Pop Quiz: Can success be sped up? Is there an antidote to slow outcomes despite arduous planning and actions taken? What’s the secret for seeing huge results right now?!

I get versions of these questions frequently from people who feel frustrated at sluggish progress in their success journey - despite all the know-how and principles they rigorously employ.

Let’s get one thing straight…

When we admire someone’s success, or even our own, we often focus on the end result and not so much on the effort (and time) that it took to get there. This can cultivate unrealistic expectations, especially the idea that overnight success can happen through careful strategy and an execution of sound advice.

The truth be told, success typically follows a series of little events and achievements that can seem to take an eternity, that include a few disappointments along the way, and that challenge everything about you to the core - your stamina, courage, integrity, and even your willingness to keep going.

If you focus on what’s not working, guess what: You’re likely coming from a place of aggravation as your mind wraps around all that is wrong.

You may even have negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough,” “It will never work,” or “Something must be wrong with me.” What this mentally does is engender more of these counter-productive feelings. And given what we know about the Law of Attraction, you attract what you are feeling. So negative experiences, people, and results will beget more negative experience, people, and results. There’s not much success in that.

The key is to focus on what IS working.

To do so, I recommend two simple practices: journaling and meditation.

Maintaining a journal (I call it an Evidence Log, Results Journal, or Gratitude Journal) is a great way to steer your attention to the positive and continually renew your vision for yourself.

Start each day with reflections on what you are grateful for in your life (list them out!) and end each day with notes on what went right (again, write them down), however small they may seem.

Spend time each day in quiet contemplation, prayer or meditation.

Meditation can be a powerful tool for arriving at solutions to problems and shifting your attitude so you can attract success sooner rather than later. The magic of meditation is its ability to essentially shut down the outer layer of your judgmental, highly-critical brain and allow your unconscious mind to take over. This is where you enter a deeper state of inner peace and joy, tapping into a higher level of creativity that will help usher in the results you want. (Don’t know how to meditate? Lots of books and materials are available to guide you through this practice. It’s easier than you think. )

Let’s say you’re doing ALL these things, but you still aren’t happy with your results…

I’ll ask you then, are you taking real ACTION?

You may be taking the actions you are used to taking. But if you keep doing what you’ve already done, then you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. It’s a matter of practicing some new behaviors. Shake things up a bit and see if you can take new actions or modify existing ones.

Remember the Rule of 5.

Every day do five specific things that take you toward your goal. Change up the five actions regularly and be open to feedback so you know when you’re off course.

Lastly, I want to remind you about patience.

It’s natural to underestimate how long a certain goal can take, especially a profound one. When I set a goal to become a millionaire, the year was 1983. How long did it take? Eleven years. It took time for Chicken Soup for the Soul to hit the bestseller lists. You could say our tenure on the New York Times list was more than a decade in the making. That’s a lot of patience for someone who initially wanted overnight success.

So, yes, patience is a virtue. But keep at it, and in no time, you’ll be only one week, or one day away from your ultimate success.

Remember… be GRATEFUL, reflect on what IS working and continue to take ACTION!

How to Practice the Art of Detached Focus to Achieve Your Goals

By Ciara Conlon

Focus: Effort, Attention, concentration, motivation, application, single mindedness emphasis, to name but a few of its synonyms.

Having the ability to decide at each moment what merits your attention is to me one of the secrets of success. It’s been proven time and again by sports stars and high achievers If there is something you want, fearlessly focusing on it will give you a much higher probability of achieving it.

Can we focus too much?

But what happens if we focus too much on our destination, when the object of our focus becomes our waking thoughts, our daily deliberations and our midnight meditations? Can this intense concentration bring us the results that we desire?

The answer unfortunately is no, those people who set goals and struggle daily for their goals to manifest generally don’t achieve them, holding on to the goal too tightly will not assist in its acquisition.

Shooting Arrows

My husband practices archery, he has thought me the basics of shooting arrows, the stance, the technique, the pulling back but most importantly the letting go. They say the letting go is the most important bit. The energy, the focus and the goal are there but it is in letting go that the arrow reaches its target.

I heard Deepak Chopra explain the concept of letting go by using the metaphor of a gardener. The gardener plants the seed and gives the seed all it needs to survive but he doesn’t go and dig it up every day to see if it has grown. The gardener is clear about the outcome he desires, he does the work required but then he lets go or detaches himself from the outcome.

So the problem is not focusing too much but focusing on the wrong thing.

Do not focus on the goal

So the sports star should focus on the daily actions and not on the final outcome, the business person should focus on the individual tasks and not the ultimate objective. When you concentrate on the goal you are holding onto it and holding on does not work with the flow of nature and life. If you focus too intently on the goal you are not truly present, and if you are not present you cannot be open to the possibilities that life may bring.

If a sales person focuses on finalizing the sale he is not paying attention to the customer and therefore will not serve the customer according to their needs. Therefore we must remember to work with a sense of purpose and awareness of presence, if we work in this manner we will be benefiting from the increase in productivity and efficiency that being focused can bring us, but more importantly we will be moving closer to our desired outcomes in a relaxed, detached and more effective manner.

Focus on the path

And so the secret is to focus intently, but to focus on the path and not on the destination. To do all that is required to make you the best at what you do but not to concentrate on the result. If we can learn to practise and hit the best forehand that we can physically hit, the outcome we want will follow. If we do our jobs with passion and the best of our abilities then the consequences will be positive, and if we intently focus on the perfecting or doing the best possible job, our goals, our dreams and our desires should not delay in following close behind.

By practicing the art of detached focus, ironic though it may sound we can achieve more by letting go.

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